Today, no one is surprised by distance learning; most educational institutions of different levels in Russia and abroad use remote technologies to some extent in the teaching process. Many students today consider this form of education as an alternative to the usual one not only in the process of obtaining a second degree, but also choose this method for their first higher education. Just 10 years ago the number of students in the world who receive education in distance technologies exceeded the number of full-time students . There is no escape from modern trends, and many universities understand this and try to develop in this direction. By the way, it is correct to say “distance learning”, not “distance education” as it is just another way of forming knowledge and skills of a student, and the content of education remains the same.
In the works of many modern authors the problems of distance learning development in Russia are considered, but probably each of them, before starting to study the problems, studied the question of expediency and effectiveness of this form of education. Let us make a short review, and also give our thoughts on this issue.
So, the arguments are in favor:
- most researchers call the first “plus” of distance learning the opportunity for students to receive in-service education [1, 2]. This is indeed a very important argument for choosing this form of education, especially for those who have decided to pursue higher education as a mature student;
- it is not necessary to travel to the institution, at least not frequently. This is especially true for students from the periphery: it reduces financial costs and provides the opportunity to obtain a degree from the capital city or from abroad;
- Those who are physically unable to attend classrooms because of a disability also have the opportunity to receive an education. Our university and personally the author have experience of working with such students in distance;
- There have always been and are people in our society who are able to “educate themselves,” i.e., self-educate, but for one reason or another have no officially recognized degree. The remote form of education allows to reduce to some extent the dependence of a person who wants and is able to obtain knowledge independently, from educational institutions and have the opportunity to obtain a diploma of higher education on an equal basis with others;
- possibility for students to participate in the organization of the educational process: to choose time and a place for work with an educational material, to define speed of studying of a material corresponding to features of the thinking;
Of course, distance learning has its own “disadvantages”
- the student does not have the opportunity to consult personally with the instructor;
- there is no opportunity to study “live” to build relationships in a team (with teachers, classmates, administration of the university), to speak to the audience;
- not every profession can be learned remotely (a doctor, veterinarian);
- not every student is able to maintain his or her motivation for independent work. In addition, the lack of such an effective motivator of academic activity as permanent control by the instructor is also affected. Those teachers who work with first-year students in universities know how important it is for freshmen, especially at first, to check their homework and regularly organize checkups and tests. The percentage of students who do not need such supervision is very low, and they already realize that independent work on a subject is necessary;
- The student does not have the opportunity to compare the intermediate results of his or her studies with other students, and does not have the opportunity to compare “live”: when working at the whiteboard, speaking at conferences, etc. read from here https://argoprep.com/blog/k8/benefits-of-homeschooling/
- the absence of a person who submits material with emotional coloring, which affects the degree of his understanding (remember a fragment of the movie “The Great Change”, in which Nestor Petrovich is giving a lecture about the Emperor Nero, who ordered the burning of Rome, which would have inspired him to write poems about the fire – none of the listeners remained indifferent).
- It is important for the teacher in the classroom to feel the students’ understanding of the material (according to their views, the questions asked, the answers to their questions) and to quickly adjust the teaching process: to repeat difficult moments once again, to give additional explanations on some questions, to change the pace of the presentation. In distance learning, this connection is lost;
- the student has the temptation and opportunity for “off-campus” study and the instructor has no way of controlling such costs of distance learning;
- For an institution of higher education, the introduction of distance learning is associated with high material costs: technical equipment, software and hardware, training of special personnel, etc.
At the same time, however, it should be noted that to some extent this compensates for some of these shortcomings: it is not possible to get a face-to-face consultation – it is possible to consult with the help of messages or Skype; there are no “live” relationships – but for some students this provides a more comfortable psychological environment for studying, etc. In addition, the traditional form of study has not been canceled, and students always have a choice between full-time, part-time, and distance learning.
Our university has so far little experience in the use of full-fledged distance learning, and most teachers use distance learning technologies in addition to traditional ones. For example, the author has developed an e-learning course “Probability Theory” based on which is successfully used by several streams of full-time and part-time students. We regularly conduct a survey of students in order to identify problems they have when working with e-courses and to learn their point of view on the effectiveness of using remote technologies in the educational process . Students believe that the combination of conventional classroom activities and independent work with e-learning courses is quite effective (table), as evidenced by the results of the analysis of student performance.
Thus, distance learning, like any other form of knowledge acquisition, has many advantages and disadvantages. A significant disadvantage is the lack of a centralized system of certification and accreditation of e-learning courses, resulting in a multitude of “handicrafts”, loudly called e-learning courses and e-textbooks, which are in fact ordinary word files. An important factor that prevents more intensive introduction of distance technologies into the educational process is the lack of motivation of university teachers to work in this direction . Perhaps the reason for this is the high labor intensiveness associated with the creation of methodological materials for distance learning, but it is important to realize that in the future the time and effort involved should be compensated for by reducing the time spent on some of the usual types of educational workload of the teacher.
At this stage of development of distance learning, our task is to organize the learning process in such a way that new forms of learning produce at least the same quality results as traditional ones. In addition, there are many questions about how to measure the effectiveness of distance learning. But anyway, the huge “plus” of distance learning technologies is that they allow anyone to learn continuously – all their life.